Posted in Education, Health

Make the switch, Lower your risk

With the month of February approaching, love is beginning to fill the air.  Red envelopes and mushy cards line the card aisles and store shelves are stocked with heart shaped boxes filled with all sorts of delectable treats.  Local florists prepare for the surge of orders for red roses and restaurants begin advertising their romantic dinners for two. But the month of February isn’t just a month that we celebrate Valentines Day.  It has also been designated as American Heart Health Month, which is jump started by the National Wear Red Day campaign, a day when everyone wears red in support of creating awareness about heart disease in women.  Naturally I participate as do my fellow employees as well.  Last year, I decided to do something different during heart month  and came up with an idea to show the impact of heart disease on our female population at work that I would like to share with all of you.

Sources indicate that 1 out of 3 women die of heart disease and stroke each year.  What’s scary is that 80% of those women who died were due to preventable risk factors.  Being overweight, smoking, eating a high sodium diet, not managing diabetes, being inactive,  not managing stress – these are all risk factors that with the right help and education, any women can change in order to lower her risk of being faced with heart disease or stroke.  The other 20% died due to unpreventable risk factors such as age or genetics – things that can unfortunately cannot change.

make-the-switchBut anyone can read statistics on paper.  I decided to put these statistics into a whole new perspective.  To exhibit the impact of these numbers at work, I choose 1/3 of our female employees as volunteers and of those volunteers, 80% of them were given my black “Make the switch, lower your risk” t-shirts to wear to exhibit the number of deaths due to preventable factors while the other 20% were given pink ones exhibited the number of deaths due to factors that could not be changed.  As you can imagine, with a group of 50 employees, majority of which were women, it became evident that the impact of such statistics could have a profound impact on just our workforce alone.  That is where I came up with the “Make the switch, lower your risk” logo that was printed on the volunteers t-shirts.  So what does it mean to “Make the switch, lower your risk”?  It’s a reminder to make a switch in your lifestyle to lower your risk of heart disease or stroke.  Even the simplest of switches in your lifestyle can help to lower your risk and help you to lead a healthier life.  All employees were given goodie bags, filled with things like information about joining our local gym, to stress balls to relieve stress, Oatmeal samples as a reminder to eat a more fibrous diet to Mrs. Dash samples to encourage a salt alternative – all sorts of items to hopefully encourage them to make a switch in order to lower their risk.

As Heart Month and Wear Red Day 2018 approach, my goal is to continue with my “Make the switch, lower your risk” campaign; Not only to bring education and awareness to my fellow employees at work, but to the public as well.  I may not be able to save the by world myself, but I hope to have an impact on at least one individual, to encourage them to make a change and to help them live a happier, healthier life!

“Recognize that every interaction you have is an opportunity to make a positive impact on others.” 

~S. Hyken

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Posted in Health

Low Battery

Like all things requiring batteries, the lives of those batteries eventually comes to an end.  Even those that are rechargeable will eventually wear out, will refuse to take a charge, and become useless.  Just as our cell phones vibrate or blink to indicate when it’s time to charge them, so does the life saving device that I, like other patients with defibrillators (ICD) or pacemakers, have implanted in my chest to warn me that the battery has little life left.

low battery

Recently, after a typical day of working and hitting the gym, I came home and sat down to relax for a few minutes before heading into the kitchen for dinner.  While checking emails on my phone, I felt an incredibly strong vibration running through my arm and chest.  I quickly laid my cell phone down, only to realize it wasn’t the phone that was vibrating at all, it was the object inside of my chest – It was my ICD!!  What a strange feeling to have!! It didn’t cause any pain, but it certainly got my adrenaline pumping (and kept waking me up for the few nights that followed).  Having been to the cardiac device center a few months prior, I was informed that my devices battery was in fact getting low.  Before long, I should expect to have my device replaced.  I was also told the unit may begin to vibrate before my next appointment, a time for me to meet my new surgeon.  Go figure – just days before this appointment was to take place, the vibrations in the device began.  Unlike a cell phone, the batteries in these types of devices can’t be recharged.  No plugging ourselves into the nearest outlet and waiting for the battery indicator to read full.  Just as a check engine light that comes on to warn a driver that the car is close to running out of gas,  these warning vibrations are an indication that its time to have the device replaced as the batteries are close to running out.

So, for Christmas this year, while many will be opening gifts, filling them with fresh new batteries to play with and enjoy, I too will be equipped with new ones as well. Ones that will keep my device running and allowing me to enjoy my life for more years to come.

 

Posted in Exercise, Inspiration

A moment to stop and say “Thank You!”

 

THANK YOU on speech bubble price labels

“The aches, the pains, the muscle fatigue…no doubt I would end up sore.  Breathing heavy, buckets of sweat dripping from my body, can’t wait to go back for more.”

Training away on the elliptical machine the other day, it hit me – 6 months of working out with my trainer Matt at the gym and I’m still going strong.  Sure, there were a few hiccups along the way and a few fattening holiday meals to contend with, but overall, I am making progress as I continue to move forward, getting fit, loosing weight, and working towards a happier heart.

At the beginning, workouts were tough and I often wondered to myself how I was ever going to make it through a singe day, let alone multiple workouts in a single week.  Me89debb562f2b432eaa7d9cfca186999y body ached and my muscles were sore – Matt had me working out areas I had probably never worked out before.  As many other gym goers would likely agree, leg days were (and still are) the worst-especially the day or two following. Everyday tasks, like sitting down in a chair, walking down a flight of stairs – heck, even sitting down to go to the bathroom were a huge challenge – you literally want to laugh and cry at the same time!  What in the world was my trainer trying to do to me?!  Is the pain unbearable? No.  Uncomfortable? Heck yeah!  But the pain does pass and it’s back to the gym to do it all over again.

I could have easily thrown in the towel so many times and said “forget this!” when things
got a little hard.  But I didn’t, not this time.  There were days I was exhausted after work, but still, I showed up.  I’m sure there were plenty of times I grumbled and groaned, pissed and moaned, but with his upbeat and encouraging attitude, Matt kept me moving along. Then there were (and still are) those times I tend not to speak up, times when I may try to push myself a littlsistersinsneakers2e too hard…a sudden twinge of pain or discomfort and I probably should speak up, but I don’t.  Times when I say I’m fine, but I think Matt is beginning to learn when I’m full of it and calls my bluff.

So to Matt, my trainer, a huge thank you for getting me back on track and helping me to work towards a fitter lifestyle.  For being a great teacher and sharing your knowledge, even when you may think I might not be paying attention to what you are talking about.  Thank you for pushing me to work a little harder when I needed to and not so much during those times I shouldn’t. And most importantly, for keeping me motivated as I work towards better health.  Continue to be a positive influence to myself and others as you help us to achieve our personal goals.

“Push harder, push farther – push myself to the limit.  Get stronger, get fitter, create a better me!”

challengeyou

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Exercise, Health

Winning the battle

Like so many others attempting to tackle the weight loss battle, I was no different, trying new diets, buying DVD’s and equipment to work out at home, reading countless articles on the “perfect exercises” and what foods to eat to stay healthy.   I joined gyms and of course, made a New Year’s Resolution to get back into shape every single year.  Stubborn as a mule, I always thought I could tackle this battle myself.  Jumping in head first, making drastic changes and pushing too hard, it was easy to get discouraged and discouraged I did! As an individual with a heart condition, doctors reminded me numerous times that I had IMG_6802to be careful how and what I did because I could actually end up doing more harm then good.  I finally decided late this summer that it was time to stop trying it all on my own – it was time to hire someone who could give me a hand.  So, while I haven’t set much time aside over the past few months to keep up with my blog, I can say I have been busy hitting the gym after work, training with my new trainer.

Some individuals I have spoken with since beginning this journey insist that hiring a personal trainer simply costs too much money.  These days money is spent on the latest electronics, the newest cell phones, more advanced cars, buying new clothes of the latest fashion or even just eating out multiple times a week.  So many spend a fortune on material things without even batting an eye,  but find it hard to spend money in order to maintain good health.  For me, I simply didn’t want to spend the extra money – period!  But then I finally realized…I was already wasting money on things that just weren’t working.  Hiring a personal trainer would be an investment, but an investment that I decided was entirely worth making.  I’ve spent thousands of dollars visiting doctors to help keep me healthy, why not visit a trainer and spend money for the same reason?!

The next step I had to make was to find myself a personal trainer.  I was already a member at the local gym, so obviously I started my search there.  I was pleasantly surprised when I met Matt, head of PT, who actually became my personal trainer. With his basketball physique and bubbly personality, always greeting his clients with a smile and a positive attitude, he’s beenweight loss quote a great motivator and teacher whom I’ve learned a lot from over the past few months as I’ve worked with him to get myself back on track.  Baby steps is what it takes.  Sure, there are some days that are harder than others, and my muscles burn with fatigue, but in the end it is entirely worth it!!  I’m loosing weight, feeling great and getting back to a fitter lifestyle and my heart is finally loving it!

Sometimes it takes asking someone else for help and that is what I did.  Some battles can’t be fought on our own…sometimes we need someone else to help us fight, someone who knows the weapons that will help us win.

 

Posted in Diet, Exercise, Health

Time to begin again

imagesFV5SF81OOk, so I have certainly been slack in the blog posting department these past few months…alright, so it has been more like 6 months since my last post.  College certainly had it’s benefits, but I think I about fried my brain with all the writing I had to do over the two years I was in.  Once I graduated, I was ecstatic that I no longer had papers to write, articles to critique, discussion groups to participate in or exams to complete.  I had plenty of ideas for different posts and had every intention to write, but was constantly  finding myself hitting a wall and words just weren’t flowing as easily as I was hoping when I sat down in front of my laptop.  So, I took a much needed break from writing.  I guess that sort of thing is bound to happen from time to time.

images8QOUAU3XSince it is a New Year, what better time to start up again!  So what is in store for my blog this year?  Like many others, I set some resolutions.  It is time to focus on two challenges I have been facing and have vowed to correct this year.  1) To get back on track with a more consistent exercise routine and 2) To overcome this odd food texture phobia and eat a more colorful and healthier diet.  Lord only knows I need to broaden the shades of color on my plate with more fruits and vegetables.  Sure, I could set a goal to loose a specific number of pounds or to go on some sort of fad diet to get there, but personally, making some lifestyle changes seem like a much better idea.  Eating healthier and being more consistent with my exercising, the weight will begin to come off.  Not only that, my focus is to be healthy for my hearts sake now that I have my heart issues under control, not spend so much time focusing just on a number on a scale.

Exercise seems to be one of the top resolutions that many individuals set for themselves in the new year.  Overcoming an odd food texture phobia – now that is something I’m sure most people will chuckle about (in fact, most already have).  Needless to say, my fruit and veggie preferences are very limited, so this year may prove to be rather interesting.veggies

So stay tuned as I work through this years resolutions.  As I’m sure many will agree, a consistent exercise routine can be a challenge, so hopefully you all can help motivate me to succeed.  As for my odd food texture phobia…get ready to laugh as I am sure working through that resolution will be rather humorous at times!

Posted in Exercise

Stepping into a box of crayons

TPurple sneakershere once existed a time when walking into a store to purchase sneakers, you essentially had two colors to choose from; white or black which was then accented with a small amount of color.  On a recent trip to purchase a pair of running sneakers, I felt as though I had stepped into a box of crayons, surrounded by all sorts of colors with crazy names to boot.  From bubble gum pink to zesty orange, electric blue to slim green – the color combinations were endless!!  I had absolutely no idea where to start.  As the salesman approached me, I imagine he could read the overwhelmed look I had written across my face.

“A lot to choose from.” he replied.  “May I make a suggestion?  Ignore the colors you see and try some sneakers on.  It will be the best way to find the one’s that are perfect for you.”sketchers

There were obviously too many colors to choose from and I had no idea which color I wanted to pick, so I took his suggestion and began my search for the perfect fit, just picking up a random sneaker and trying it on.  However, ironically, I would soon find out that the colors were a clear indication of what would or wouldn’t be the best sneaker for me.

First, I tried fruit; a pair of gushing grape colored Asics trimmed in a granny smith apple green.  I was wearing fruit on my feet!  pink nikeFruit don’t belong on your feet and neither did this pair of sneakers, so it was on to the next pair.  Next, black Skechers decked out in a variety of bright candy colors.  Looking at them made me think of the colors of gumballs coming out of the gumball machine.  Pinks, yellows, blues, and greens; a sweet combinations that did not fit so sweetly afterall.  This was soon followed up by a pair of pink Nike’s that looked as though I had stuck my foot in a bucket of Pepto Bismol.  Needless to say, these didn’t fit my feet comfortably and no doubt were making me nauscious just staring at them.  Before long, I was trying to cram my feet into a pair of Caution tape, yellow sneakersbright yellow sneakers.  Perhaps the color was an indication not to try the sneakers on in the first place, warning me to stay away because as soon as I put those on, I knew right away they were clearly not right for me.

After spending an hour or so trying on numerous sneakers in nearly ever color of the crayon box, I settled on a pair of electric blue sneakers, complete with hot pink shoelaces and trim, reminiscent of a neon sign shining brightly.  They fit like a dream!  Finally, a pair of running sneakers that were the perfect fit complete with a color to suit.nike

Posted in Exercise, Health

Its time to run!

Alright, it’s time to get my run on!  Many of my coworkers as well as myself will be participating in our first ever 5K Corporate Challenge this summer.  Needless to say, I can’t remember the last time my feet have hit the pavement in a full force run.  Chances are, it was probably high school!  I am a originallittle nervous about how my heart will handle it, but I am certainly up for the challenge.  Without a doubt, plenty of training to build my endurance will be necessary if I am going to make it to the finish line, and this week I shall venture out on that journey.  The fact is, if I don’t try, I will never know if my body can do it.  To some, a 5K run seems like nothing…just a walk in the park.  For others, like myself, it will be a huge accomplishment to succeed.  With confirmation from my doctor to go ahead, I just have to remember not to push so far beyond what my body can physically handle.  I have to listen to my body when it says “slow down” or “take it easy”.  Most importantly, I can’t allow myself to get discouraged quickly.  It’ll take time to work up to a full 5K run and plenty of baby steps will finish-linebe taken to get there.  Without a doubt, since I started going back to school, my diet has been horrible, a regular exercise routine non-existent, and the stress level has certainly increased.  Thankfully, however, school is nearly over and I am ready for a change and training as well as participating in this 5K will certainly offer me the stepping stone for some changes a truly need.

I look forward to sharing this experience with you and hope you all can provide me with the encouragement to succeed!